Sant Automotive is Webster Groves’ Premier Automotive Repair Shop.
Believe it or not, every vehicle on the road comes with instructions that cover everything from how to set the radio, how to change a tire, how to read the symbols on the dash, and how to properly maintain the vehicle. It’s called an “owner’s manual,” and it typically is found in the glove compartment. Marketing departments write owner’s manuals with input from engineers. Why you ask? If engineers wrote the manuals, you would have even less of a clue as to what the manufacturers were trying to tell you, but I digress. Owner’s manuals convey valuable information about how best to maintain your vehicle. They list specifications for fluids including engine oil, coolant, transmission fluid, and differential fluid. Also, owner’s manuals tell owners what should be done to maintain vehicles and when these services should be performed. Factory recommendations can be tricky because they rely on the customer to determine which schedule should be followed: “normal” or “severe.” If you check your owner’s manual, you will likely see that conditions such as multiple short trips, driving on gravel or dusty conditions, driving in extreme heat, and making short trips are all considered “severe” use. If motorists wanted to strictly follow factory recommendations, most would use follow the severe service recommendations. Following a chart to determine the appropriate services for your vehicle can be confusing for a couple of reasons. Some manuals contain information for several vehicles or for components with which your vehicle may not be equipped. For example, many owner’s manuals state that cabin air filters should be maintained at specific intervals, even when the vehicle did not come equipped with them. Also, nobody actually records service in their vehicle (it would be like marking in a library book), so it is tough to keep track of what has been done and what should be done. Most local dealers do not feel compelled to follow factory maintenance schedules. Many will say that their experience dictates that several services be performed regardless of whether these recommendations appear in the manual or not. Give it a try, break out your owner’s manual, call the service department of your local dealer, and ask what services they recommend at a specific mileage interval. In all likelihood, what you hear will not match what you read. In defense of dealers, not all factory recommendations are clear. Owner’s manuals typically dictate that items be checked at a certain interval, even if replacement is not recommend. Presumably, if an item is to be checked, it is to be replaced if inspection dictates. One item that is usually ignored in factory maintenance schedules is brake fluid. Almost all factory maintenance schedules list flushing brakes as a maintenance item that should be performed bi-annually, but this information is typically contained elsewhere in the manual. At Sant Automotive, we keep keeping track of your maintenance easy. We check factory recommendations to see what is recommended, and we are thorough in inspecting your vehicles. Moreover, if you provide us with an email address, we will send period reminders, both for maintenance and for repairs that should be made based on our thorough inspection. At Sant Automotive, we’ll keep you on the road. If you have any questions, please call Sant Automotive at 314-849-2900. Thanks.
Whether you purchased your extended warranty from a dealership or online and whether you purchased your extended warranty from Delta Auto, Endurance, Carchex, Trustmark, American Auto Care, Carshield or from one of the several dozen aftermarket warranty companies, it is likely that Sant Automotive can work on your vehicle and have repairs covered under warranty. Here is how it typically works. Customers detect a condition in their vehicle that they believe may be covered by an extended warranty. Sant Automotive then takes the policy number and contact information and determines the cause of the customer’s concern. Next, we negotiate on behalf of our customers. This last step is critical. Warranty companies obviously want to pay out as little as possible, and they will work hard to do so. Some will try to reduce payout by questioning the cause of a customer’s concern, questioning the price and quality of replacement parts, or by questioning whether or not a needed repair was caused is actually covered by normal wear and, therefore, not insurable. For example, a warranty company may contend that a customer’s concern was caused by neglect or abuse. If a customer drives his Chevrolet Tahoe in the Baja 500, warranty companies would be reluctant to pay a claim. Some warranty companies have asked us to use “junk yard” or inferior parts to repair our customers’ vehicles. In rare instances, this may be acceptable. An example would be if a new original equipment or aftermarket part is not available. Usually, used parts are not acceptable. The third case that we mentioned can be more complicated. For example, if a brake caliper seizes and causes damage to a brake rotor and to the brake pads on one side of the vehicle, should the warranty company be expected to pay for a new set of brakes on both sides of the vehicle? The answer depends on a variety of factors including the wording of the warranty and the condition of the brake pads. The extended service plan provider may state that if the brake pads are 90% worn, it shouldn’t be expected to pay for the replacement of all wear items. In all cases, we advocate for our customers. We ask the warranty company what they are willing to pay and make the case for them to pay more. We then contact our customers, explain the needed repairs, explain what the service contract provider has offered, and let our customers make informed decisions. If there are items in need of attention that should be done in conjunction with needed repairs that will not be covered, we give our customers the opportunity to save money in the longer term by doing them at the same time as a covered repair. Of course, this is the sole decision of our customers. There are a few things to remember about extended warranties or extended service contracts. First, most service or repair contracts do not cover any diagnostic or tear down time. We look to our customers to cover this expense. Second, just because a company refuses to pay an entire bill, it does not mean that the company is being unfair. As stated earlier, and some items will not be covered, some may only partially be covered. If you have an extended warranty or service plan, give Sant Automotive a call at 314-849-2900. We will get you back on the road as quickly as possible at the lowest cost to you. Thanks.
For decades, vehicle electrical systems have been responsible for starting vehicles recharging the battery and for providing power to electrical components like lights and power windows. More recently, vehicle electrical systems have become a complex web of circuitry that handles all of the traditional tasks, all of the new features like power seats, heated seats, navigation systems and entertainment centers. Components like steering and braking are electronically controlled. Increased complexity dictates that trained automotive professionals, equipped with accurate technical information, wiring diagrams, and diagnostic equipment work on your vehicles. If your vehicle will not crank, your accessories will not operate, or your vehicle performance is not up to snuff, remember that Sant Automotive has the experience, knowledge, and tools to keep you on the road.
Batteries and alternators are the backbone of your vehicle's electrical system. Vehicle alternators produce electricity and vehicle batteries store it. Without a battery, your car wouldn’t even start. Without an alternator, your battery would quickly discharge, and you would be stranded. With the advent of complex electrical systems that may contain a dozen or so modules, or computers, along with the proliferation of power equipment like electric door, electric windows, entertainment systems, and the increased complexity of engine management systems, a properly functioning battery and alternator are critical. A dead battery can leave you stranded; an alternator that is charging too little will dissipate your battery, and an alternator that is overcharging can fry your vehicle’s battery as well as other electrical components. Most batteries are said to be “maintenance free.” This means that there is no longer a need to add water to them. Maintenance free, however, does not mean that the electrical system is maintenance free. Corrosion on battery terminals or on battery cable ends increases resistance, causes heat and causes your alternator to work harder. This, in turn, shortens alternator life. Aside from starting your vehicle, the most important task of car’s electrical system is to provide a steady stream of current to other components. Modern vehicles contain dozens of resistor, motors, and sensor each of which can be comprised by incorrect voltage. Remember, in addition to providing power to accessories, your vehicle’s battery and alternator are integral to its engine management system. Throttle position sensors (TPMS), manifold absolute pressure sensors (MAPS), Coolant temperature sensors, mass air flow sensors, knock sensors, oxygen sensors, and a myriad of other sensors rely on your battery and alternator to provide a steady stream of power. Without proper voltage, your engine will not operate at peak efficiency. Fuel economy will diminish, and harmful emissions will increase. Worse, all electrical components are subject to a diminished service life if electrical systems are not functioning properly. Until recently, most battery manufacturers referred to their batteries as “five,” “six,”or “seven” year batteries. These numbers referred to the warranty period of the batteries. These terms were a bit deceptive as in almost every case, the warranties were prorated, and they were prorated on a monthly basis and from such a stratospherically high list price that the warranties were typically worthless well before the end of their stated terms. More recently, manufacturers have moved to promote free replacement periods. As you probably figured, “free replacement” refers to the number of months after purchase that a battery will be replaced for free. At Sant Automotive, we insist on using only high quality parts. The alternator brands that we use most often are AC Delco, Motorcraft, and Denso. AC Delco and Motorcraft are original equipment in Ford and General Motors vehicles, and Denso alternators are common in a variety of Asian vehicles. Regarding batteries, we prefer Delco Gold batteries which come with a 42 month free replacement. When it comes to batteries and alternators, choose the best, and choose Sant Automotive to keep you on the road. For any questions, please give us a call at 314-849-2900. Thanks.
Driving in St. Louis summers can be brutal, especially if your vehicle’s air conditioning is not functioning properly. Fortunately, we can help. Air conditioning systems are relatively simple, and vehicle air conditioning systems are no different. Air conditioning systems work on a principle called “phase transition.” As a refrigerant gas vaporizes, it absorbs heat; when it returns to a liquid state, it dissipates heat. In addition to refrigerant, all air conditioning systems are comprised of five major components: the compressor, condenser, receiver/drier, the expansion valve, and the evaporator. The compressor is a belt driven pump that circulates refrigerant through your vehicle’s air conditioning system. When your turn on your air conditioner, the compressor pumps refrigerant in vapor for to the condenser. When the compressor pumps the refrigerant, the refrigerant is under very high pressure, and it is in vapor form. The condenser looks like a small radiator, and it is mounted in front of your vehicle’s radiator. When the refrigerant is pumped into the condenser, heat is removed from it and dissipated into the atmosphere. Now the refrigerant is in a liquid state, and it moves to the receiver/drier which removes water that may have entered the system. Water is an enemy of any air conditioning system because it can freeze and block the flow of refrigerant. From the receiver/drier, the high pressure liquid refrigerant moves to the expansion valve which acts to reduce the pressure and convert the refrigerant back to gas and cools the refrigerant. The evaporator also looks like a small radiator, and it is usually located in front of the firewall on the passenger side of a vehicle. When the cold, low-pressure refrigerant moves to the evaporator, it turns to gas and absorbs heat from the passenger compartment. A blower pushes air over the evaporator and circulates the air throughout the passenger compartment. This action causes condensation that drains from the passenger compartment and falls on the ground. This is the water that you see beneath your vehicle if you run an air conditioner on a hot day. From the evaporator, the refrigerant moves back to the compressor and the cycle repeats. Refrigerant is a critically important component of your vehicle’s air conditioning system. It’s function is to absorb and later dissipate heat. Theoretically, your vehicle’s air conditioning system is a closed loop; that is, refrigerant is not actually consumed in the air conditioning process. Rather it is circulated and used to move heat from one place to another. Various types of refrigerant have been used in automotive applications. The most prevalent automotive refrigerant today is R-134A. R-134A displaced R-12 as the most common refrigerant a dozen or more years ago due to concerns about R-12’s deleterious effect on the ozone layer. R-134 has also been determined to be detrimental to the environment, so it is being phased out in favor of R1234YF, a flammable gas that is more environmentally friendly. In choosing a shop to work on your vehicle’s air conditioning system, there are a few important points to remember. First, as with all repair services, choose a reputable shop that is fully trained to provide the services you require. The only licensing required to work on an air conditioning system is that required to handle refrigerant. No part of the licensing procedure requires actual ability to work on an air conditioning system. Rather, the focus on the licensing is solely the safe handling of the refrigerant itself. Second, the fact that refrigerant is not consumed in the cooling process means that if a system is low on refrigerant, the leak must be found to insure that the system is not soon empty again. Shops should be competent to repair your vehicle’s air conditioning system. Recharging a leaking system is a waste of money, and it is bad for the environment. Third, automotive air conditioning systems require increasingly less refrigerant to properly operate. A system that is either over or under charge by just a few ounces will not function as efficiently as one that is properly charged. Mobile air conditioning systems are increasingly complex. Sant Automotive has the knowledge and equipment to keep you on the road and cool. If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment, please give us a call at 314-849-2900. If you’d like to watch a brief AC Delco video on mobile air conditioning, here you go: http://www.acdelco.com/resource-library/air-conditioning-in-action.html
In Missouri, vehicles less than five years old are required to undergo a Missouri safety inspection every two years. Also, when a title is transferred, a vehicle must undergo a safety inspection. Odd year vehicles are inspected in odd years. Even year vehicles are inspected in even years. Missouri offers two year license plates; however, whether a motorist elects to renew his or her plates annually or bi-annually, he or she must only provide a valid inspection every two years. The Missouri safety inspection sets the minimum accepted standard for items subject to inspection. That is, a vehicle cannot said to be in “good shape” merely because it has met the minimum standards of a Missouri safety inspection. Items inspected on a Missouri safety inspection include: brakes, signaling devices, steering mechanism, horn, mirrors, windshield wipers, tires, wheels, exhaust system, glazing, pollution control devices, fuel system, seat belt, and bumpers. If a vehicle fails a Missouri safety inspections, the vehicle owner has 20 days to make the necessary repairs in order to receive a “no charge” re-inspection. Additionally, motorists who register their vehicles in St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson, and Franklin Counties must obtain a Missouri emissions inspection provided that the vehicles are model year 1996 or newer and that they have a gross vehicle weight of less than 8,500 pounds. The emission inspection consists of an inspector connecting an analyzer to the vehicle’s diagnostic port and checking for diagnostic trouble codes. If a vehicle’s “check engine” light is illuminated, or if diagnostic trouble codes are set, the vehicle will fail the emissions test. Finally, for a vehicle to pass a Missouri emissions inspection, the readiness monitors must be set. This means that self tests of a vehicle’s engine management system must have recently run, and the systems tested must be working properly. Clearing codes with a hand scanner or disconnecting a vehicle’s battery to clear stored codes will not result in a passed emissions test. As with Missouri safety inspections, a motorist whose vehicle fails a Missouri emissions inspection has 20 days to return for a “no charge” re-inspection. Both safety and emissions inspections are good for 60 days; however, license plates on vehicles with valid inspections may be renewed up to six monthly before the renewal date. Sound confusing? Here’s an example. If my plates are due for renewal in August, I could obtain the inspections and renew my plates as early as March provided that my inspections have been performed within 60 days of the date that I renew my plates. Vehicles fail both Missouri safety and Missouri emissions for a myriad of reasons, but rest assured. Sant Automotive can handle the most simple repairs like replacing torn wiper blades or high mount brake lights as well as the most difficult emissions repair. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call Sant Automotive at 314-849-2900. Thanks.
Wheel alignments or “alignments” are essential to improved tire wear, improved handling, and increased fuel economy. New vehicles come in alignment, but they become out of alignment with regular wear. Worn steering and suspension parts such as ball joints, tie rod ends, shock, struts and springs cause a vehicle to become out of alignment. Also, collisions with potholes or curbs can throw a vehicle out of alignment. When this happens, tire rolling resistance increases, and tire life, fuel economy, and handling suffer. Vehicles that either pull to one side or another or ones that exhibit uneven tire wear are candidates for alignment. During an alignment, the technician seeks to restore the various angles specified by the manufacturer. The three primary alignment angles are caster, camber and toe. Caster referrers to the relative position of wheels on the same axle. If camber is off, one wheel is further forward than the other. Caster refers to the horizontal position of tires. A tire that leans in or out is indicative of caster being off. Signs of an out of caster situation include increased wear on the inner or outer edges of a tire. If “toe” is out, the tires are not square to each other. Either one or more tires is not aimed straight. In addition to increased tire wear and, potentially, decreased fuel economy, a vehicle with a toe out of alignment will typically pull to one side or another. While most manufacturers recommend that alignment be checked annually, alignments are also recommended when new tires, steering components, or suspension components are replaced. Sant Automotive utilizes a state of the art Hunter Hawkeye system to measure the alignment angles on our customers’ vehicles. Our highly precise Hunter Hawkeye alignment machine is capable of measuring various alignment angles to within 1/100 of a degree. Once alignments are measured, our trained technicians can then make the various adjustments needed to insure that factory specification are restored. When inspecting tires, it is also important to remember that worn suspension items like shock absorbers and struts can also cause uneven tire wear. Vehicles with worn suspension components tend to skip causing uneven tire wear. At Sant Automotive, we sell virtually every brand of tire, but we are an authorized dealer for Michelin, BF Goodrich, and Uniroyal tires. We want our customers to get the maximum benefit from their vehicles and from their tires. If a vehicle is showing signs of alignment problems, we will notify our customers and suggest corrective action. If you have any questions, please give us a buzz at 314-849-2900. Thanks.
A vehicle’s suspension is a complex system that is designed to maximize the contact between the tire’s contact patches and the road. The goal of a suspension system is to provide steering stability while maintaining handling and ride quality. Components of a vehicle’s suspension can include ball joints, control arms, coil springs, leaf springs, trailing arms, shock absorbers and struts, sway bars, sway bar links, sway bar bushings, and tires. All suspension components wear and should be inspected periodically and replaced as necessary. Indications that suspension components are worn and should be replaced include leaks from the shocks and/or struts, diminished ride quality, diminished handling or braking, abnormal tire wear, and noises coming from either the front or rear suspension. Top quality shock absorbers, like Monroe’s Reflex and Spectrum shocks & struts are gas charged. As the seals in these components dry and wear, leaks may become evident. This is an indication that the component is worn and should be replaced. Diminished ride quality is often evident in vehicles with worn shocks and struts. As shocks and struts wear, a vehicle may seem to sway and feel more like a boat than a vehicle. Diminished handling may be evident when turning at higher speeds. A vehicle with worn suspension components may not corner at higher speeds as well as it did when the components were new. Similarly, a vehicle’s braking ability may diminish as suspension parts wear. Remember, a goal of the suspension system is to maximize the contact between tire’s contact patches and the road. If this contact is not maximized, braking distances will suffer. Worn suspension items, especially worn shocks and struts, may cause improper tire wear. Cupped or scalloped tires are a good indication that tires are not maintaining contact with the road. If a tire skips, tire wear will be uneven. As suspension items wear, alignment angles change. For this reason, it is generally a good idea to have an alignment performed when suspension items are replaced. Sant automotive offers a wide selection of suspension components including Moog, Monroe, AC Delco, and Motorcraft. Depending on the application, original equipment parts may also be recommended. When purchasing suspension parts, remember that quality matters. Even top manufacturers like Moog may offer different lines of suspension parts for your vehicle. If you choose the highest quality, you’ll be happier. If you have any questions about your vehicle or its suspension, please give us a call at 314-849-2900. We are happy to answer any questions that you may have. For more information about your vehicle’s suspension system, check out this video from AC Delco. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCiwQb5sQ74
In most vehicles, an automatic transmission is a gearbox that uses a complex system of gears and gear trains to convert a rotating power source in order to provide speed and torque. Vehicle’s typically have an idle speed that ranges from 600 to 1000 rpms, and they have an operating range of 600 to about 7,000 rpms. Wheel speeds on most vehicles range from 0 to about 1300 rpms, so a mechanism is also necessary to reduce rpms from the engine to the drive wheels. In automatic transmissions, lubrication is key. Most transmission failures can be traced to a breakdown of transmission fluid. In order to maintain a transmission, it is necessary to check transmission fluid periodically and to change it when recommended. Transmission fluid should be changed when it appears or smells dirty or burnt. Additionally, it is of utmost importance to change transmission fluid at the manufacturers’ recommended service interval as indicated in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. At Sant Automotive, we believe strongly in performing a complete transmission service. This consists of dropping the transmission pan, checking for debris, changing the filter, and refilling the transmission with the appropriate factory recommended transmission fluid. Next, we prefer to flush the entire transmission with the appropriate fluid. This ensures that about 95% of old fluid is removed from your vehicle. (Merely, dropping the pan and changing the filter and fluid results in only about 35% of the old fluid being changed.) Properly maintained transmission may last the entire life of a vehicle. Sadly, transmissions do fail, and replacement is recommended. Sant Automotive prefers to use remanufactured transmissions from Jasper Engine’s & Transmissions. In the remanufacturing process, Jasper replaces all wear items. Moreover, Jasper Transmissions come with a three year, 100,000 mile parts and labor, nationwide warranty. If your transmission isn’t performing properly or if you’d like to get the most out of your transmission, come to Sant Automotive or give us a call at 314-849-2900.
Sant Automotive offers a selection of brake pads to suitable for almost every car or light truck on the road. Wagner Quickstop pads are a favorite because they are long lasting, quiet, and dependable. For pickups, SUVs, and CUVs, we now proudly offer Wagner OEX brake pads. These brake pads feature proprietary friction formulations and platform specific shapes that are designed to nearly double pad life while reducing dust and rotor wear. Cool part: The unique shape of each pad is designed to create turbulent air flow that better dissipates the heat created by pad/rotor contact. Personal Finance Editor Justus Tentschert assures me that the ability to double the useful life of a product without even coming close to doubling the price has to be a pretty darn good deal. Regenerative braking systems are most common in hybrids like the Toyota Prius and in fully electric cars like the Tesla Roadster. Here is how conventional four wheel disc braking systems work: when a driver depressed the brake pedal, a piston in the master cylinder forces brake fluid to close calipers which presses brake pads against steel rotors. This friction slows your vehicle as it converts kinetic energy to heat. With regenerative braking, stepping on the brake pedal causes the electric motor that powers the vehicle to run backwards causing the motors to act as a generator. Kinetic energy is converted into electricity and stored in the batteries. Because this type of system cannot produce sufficient stopping power for all situations, hybrids and electric vehicles also have conventional friction brake systems. Most cars have a few different kinds of brake systems. If your car is equipped with alloy wheels, you can probably look through the wheels and see shinny round discs. These are called brake rotors. When apply your brakes, brake pads, a friction material clamps on your rotors to slow your vehicle. The system is similar to bicycle brakes. Vehicles that have rotors on all four wheels are said to be “four wheel disc equipped.” Some vehicles have disc brakes on the front and drum brakes on the rear. These are called “two wheel brake systems.” Brake drums look like metal dishes that bolt to a vehicle’s spindles. With drum brakes, dipressing the brake pedal causes brake cylinders to open pressing the brake shoes against the inside of the drums. Parking, or emergency brakes may be operated by either the brake pedal or by a hand brake. These systems are present on both disc and drum brake systems and operate by less forcefully applying the rear brakes. A car in motion has a tremendous amount of kinetic. When brakes are applied, this is converted into heat that can reach more than 900 degrees. To withstand these extreme temperatures, brake shoes and pads are made of ceramics, alloys, and composite materials. Because both disc and drum brake systems operate by brake fluid displacing metal parts, calipers in disc brake systems and cylinders in drum brake systems, the brake fluid needs to have a high boiling point. DOT 3 brake fluid is probably the most common brake fluid, and it has a “dry boiling point” of 401 degrees. That means that when new, the boiling point is 401 degrees. Unfortunately, brake fluid is hygroscopic meaning that it absorbs water. As moisture content increases, boiling point drops. Gasses can be compressed, but fluids cannot. When brake fluid boils, it compresses resulting in pedal fade, or a mushy brake pedal. Also, moisture in brake lines causes them to rust from the inside. For this reason, and because dirty brake fluid can damage expensive anti-lock brake components, vehicle manufacturers recommend that brake fluid be flushed every two years. For all of your brake needs, call Sant Automotive. 314-849-2900.
Most passenger cars and light trucks come with a liquid cooled cooling system that consists of coolant, a radiator, water pump, cooling fan, coolant reservoir, thermostat, coolant temperature sensor, coolant hoses, and thermal fan switch. The job of a vehicle’s cooling system is to keep the engine operating within its recommended temperature range. This prolongs the life of an engine and keeps it from overheating in the summer and freezing in the winter. Here’s how it works. When the engine is started, a mixture of coolant and water helps cool your engine. This happens because heat from the engine is absorbed into the water/coolant mixture. At the proscribed temperature, the thermostat will open causing the mixture to be pumped by the water pump into the radiator. Here, air flowing across the fins of the radiator dissipates the heat that was absorbed when the coolant mixture was in the radiator. To ensure that sufficient air flow exists to dissipate the heat, a cooling fan, working on the input that it receives from the coolant temperature sensor will come on once the mixture reaches the proscribed temperature. Older vehicles used mechanical cooling fans to remove heat from the coolant in the reservoir. These belt driven fans would run continuously when the vehicle was running. The disadvantage to mechanical pumps was that they would run at lower speeds than today’s electric cooling fans. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was common for vehicles in traffic to overheat. This occurred because the older, mechanical fans did not generate enough wind speed to dissipate enough heat, particularly at lower temperatures. Inspecting a cooling system involves several checking for leaks, budging hoses, loose or broken clamps, condition, freeze protection, and pH level of the coolant and insuring that the cooling fan and thermostat open at the proper temperature. For further information, or to have your cooling system service, please call the experts at Sant Automotive at 314-849-2900. Thanks.
Whether you're due for a oil change, timing belt replacement, or anything in between, Sant Automotive will complete the task.
Sant Automotive has teamed with Michelin partner, Synchrony Financial, to offer a financing alternative to our customers. For more information, please give us a call at 314-800-8619.